HYANNIS — The Red Raider Rolling Rally, a pre-Thanksgiving tradition, returned to downtown Hyannis Wednesday for the first time since 2013.
The event drew hundreds to Main Street and the Village Green for a parade and pep rally for the Barnstable High School football team ahead of its annual Thanksgiving Day game against Falmouth.
The teams will continue one of the five oldest rivalries in the state when they meet for the 132nd time at 10 a.m. Thursday in Falmouth.
The return of the rally to downtown was the brainchild of Cathy Demanche, a vice president of the Barnstable Quarterback Club and wife of former Barnstable High School football coach Paul “Spanky” Demanche.
After bad weather caused the event to be canceled three straight years earlier in the decade, the downtown rally appeared to have fizzled out as new parent organizing groups unfamiliar with the parade came in, Demanche said.
“The tradition got lost,” she said.
Demanche and Lynn Burke, another member of the Barnstable Quarterback Club, decided to get the parade going again during a game earlier in the season. They began making plans in late September for a revival of the cherished community event, working with town officials to secure the proper permits.
Fast forward two months and the throngs of Barnstable football fans, most clad in red and white, were back downtown to cheer on the team.
There were 17 vehicles and floats, including several flatbed trucks carrying football players and cheerleaders, along with members of the high school marching band. The parade wound its way from the Hyannis Transportation Center along Main Street, High School Road and South Street to Barnstable Town Hall.
Patti Machado, recreation director for the town of Barnstable and a graduate of the Class of 1978, served as grand marshal.
“This is all about town spirit and getting the whole town excited and instilling in the kids how much we appreciate the hard work they put in on the field,” she said, calling the event wholesome.
Machado did not know exactly how many years the parade and rally had been happening, but said she remembers her father speaking fondly of it.
“This is the greatest rivalry ever,” Machado said. “I have good friends in Falmouth, and we razz each other about it.”
Debra Dagwan was one of five town councilors who participated in the parade, calling it an exciting event to bring the community together while noting there were more floats than ever before.
“I hope this will become an annual event that will (re)build over time,” Town Councilor Britt Beedenbender said.
State Rep. William Crocker, R-Centerville, also attended the rally, wearing his Barnstable High School football jacket from 1974, when he was senior captain of the team.
On the bandstand at the Village Green, several coaches and team members offered remarks and sang the song “We are the Raiders” about the special experience of playing a rival on Thanksgiving morning.
Near the conclusion of the rally, the crowd was asked to turn toward the west and scream “Falmouth” in unison three times.
“It’s to let them know we’re coming,” said one of the coaches to the crowd.